Code Girls: Top Secret American Brainpower During World War II

97803163525501Today we often hear that children must learn how to code as the only way to be prepared for the technical challenges they will encounter as adults. I used to teach coding to children at my school, but after reading Code Girls, I am reminded that we should not lose sight of the importance of a broad education that emphasizes languages, math, science, music, and all the other subjects that make up the liberal arts. This type of education serves people well, because it ensures that students possess thinking skills and develop the wherewithal to learn, when necessary, new types of technical skills, such as coding and programming.

in Code Girls author Liza Mundy tells the story of how young women, many of whom were academically prepared in the liberal arts to become teachers, came to work for the Army and Navy in Washington, D.C. during World War II. They mastered extraordinary technical skills, learning how to decipher complicated and perplexing coded wartime communications.

The book describes how thousands of these young women — recruited with no idea of what they would be doing — learned how figure out cyphers and break codes, thereby ensuring that the United States military knew what its enemies were planning or doing. The women poured over intercepted messages from enemy countries and by breaking open these messages helped to save lives, sink ships, down airplanes, and fool enemies. Their work helped to change the course for the United States in World War II.   Continue reading

Japanese Internment in the U.S. — Information to Share With Today’s Students

I have known six people whose families were forced to move into United States government Japanese internment camps. It’s been an honor for me and my family to listen to their stories — though not always easy to hear about or imagine the cruelty they experienced. The internment, a reaction to the war with Japan and called an evacuation by the United States government, began in 1942 and essentially imprisoned more than 117,000 people. Two-thirds of them were born as American citizens and over half were children,

February 19th, the day in 1942 that President Roosevelt signed an executive order known as the internment order, is a Day of Remembrance in many states. Educators and parents can use the day to understand more — and help 21st Century children learn more — about the internment of Japanese families during World War II. Today, as we deal with the challenges of increasing diversity in the United States and recognize our immigrant history, it’s more important than ever to understand what happened and why the United States now recognizes the internment policy as a mistake.

As U. S. President Gerald Ford said, “Not only was the evacuation wrong, but Japanese Americans were and are loyal Americans.”      Continue reading

Women Mathematicians Who Helped Save Lives During WW II

MV5BNDU2NzEyNjI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODcwNjI2MjE@-1._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_If you want to help your kids or grandkids learn more history about interesting ways that women contributed to saving lives during World War II, look no farther than Top Secret Rosies, a PBS video that tells the story of the women who were a part of a secret project to figure our mathematically various trajectories of weapons during the war. Called female computers — that is people who compute —  these women were recruited from all over the country to go to Philadelphia and work in secrecy at a special lab set up just for them.

With so many STEM-in-the-curriculum (STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and math) discussions and the urgency to encourage 21st Century girls and young women to take more interest in science, math, and technology, it’s exciting to discover a resource that shares a story about women and their amazing mathematical achievements. Top Secret Rosies is a one-hour documentary, produced by LeAnn Erickson, a professor at Temple University tells the story.

Continue reading

Top Secret Rosies: Female Mathematicians During World War II

MV5BNDU2NzEyNjI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODcwNjI2MjE@-1._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_With so many STEM-in-the-curriculum discussions and the urgency to encourage 21st Century girls and young women to take more interest in science and technology, it’s exciting to discover a resource that shares a story about women and some amazing mathematical achievements.

Check out Top Secret Rosies a video about the women, recruited by the United States Army during World War II, who worked on a top-secret mathematics project. The women, all of whom possessed strong math skills, were recommended by their college professors and travelled to Philadelphia to do the complex ballistics calculations that were required to aim weapons more accurately.

Continue reading